- Meeting of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 2nd December, 2020 10.00 am (Item 50.)
Presentation of the Strategic Head of Early Help, the Early Years Strategic Lead and Tracey Forster, Lead Manager, Health Visiting, Vulnerable Babies and Community Health Services
This presentation provides a progress update on the priorities and delivery from Early Years and partners during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Committee received a presentation of the Strategic Head of Early Help, the Early Years Strategic Lead and Tracey Forster, Lead Manager, Health Visiting, Vulnerable Babies and Community Health Services. The presentation provided a progress update on the priorities and delivery from Early Years and partners during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the presentation, which included:
- Strategic priorities;
- The impact of the pandemic on Early Years settings;
- The financial impact of the pandemic;
- The Early Years Service’s response to the pandemic;
- The performance and impact of the Speech and Language Pathway;
- The performance and impact of the Parenting Pathway;
- Work to support school readiness; and
- The Health Visiting Service, including its performance and its response to the pandemic.
The Chair clarified that the budget savings referred to in the presentation slides were officer proposals at this stage.
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
- To praise the way that the services had adapted in response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, as well as the impact and outcomes of their work, which had been outlined in the presentation;
- How many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) families had the service been in contact with regarding speech and language support;
- To note from the presentation that 120 daycare settings were open and to ask how many settings there were in Manchester in total;
- The challenges that new parents were experiencing during the pandemic; and
- The limitations of health visitors only speaking to parents on the telephone rather than seeing them and whether any alternatives were being used, for example, Zoom meetings.
The Early Years Strategic Lead clarified that 120 daycare settings were now open, out of a total of 130 settings. She reported that uptake of daycare places was being monitored on a weekly basis and that this was 20% lower than the previous year, which was due to parental choice and fear of perceived risks. In response to the question about BAME families and speech and language support, she advised that she did not have the figures to hand but could provide this information outside of the meeting. She outlined how the Early Years Service had responded to the needs of new parents during the pandemic, including baby groups, which had been taking place since September 2020, outreach work and projects with partners, such as work with Manchester Art Gallery to provide sensory boxes.
Tracey Forster agreed that, where possible, face-to-face contact was best for health visiting. She reported that most contacts had been swapped to telephone contact during the pandemic but that the option of appointment-only clinics had been retained and that staff had Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to carry out home visits, where this was needed. She informed Members that the service could also use online video meetings to speak to families but that this was not been heavily used, although it had proved useful for observing and providing advice on feeding. She advised that telephone contact had been the main means of contact during lockdown but that health visitors had made a note of families where they felt that face-to-face contact would be most beneficial and, from June onwards, those families had been prioritised to receive home visits or to be invited in for a clinic-based appointment. She advised that families who were not known to the service, for example, families who had recently moved into the city and first-time parents, had been prioritised for these face-to-face contacts.
To thank Manchester’s health visitors for the excellent work they are doing and to thank everyone involved in the Early Years work for their contribution.
[Ms Barnwell declared a personal interest as a Member of Manchester Parents Forum]